Hello Leader,

In this KEY I share with you what I learned by observing a group of fishermen: What attracts the fish? Why some are successful and others not? And what we can all learn from the seventh fisherman?

Please forward this KEY to friends, family and associates.


Aviv Shahar

The Seventh Fisherman

My favorite winter activity is swimming in the ocean down here in southern Florida. The ocean is a great place for reflection and recharge. One beautiful morning we showed up quite early. The beach was nearly empty except for a few men who were preparing their fishing rods. I counted seven of them.

Each of the men went through their individual routine to get ready. I observe with keen interest how people prepare for what they intend to do. Every profession, hobby, and field has its preparation routine. Six fishermen quickly set up their gear, got their fishing rods into position and were now sitting and watching for the pull on the line that would tell that a fish had taken the bait and was ready to be reeled in.

Six of the men had fancy equipment and accessories. But the seventh man had the simplest gear. He brought just a simple old bucket in which he had everything he needed to prepare his two rods. He used the same bucket to sit on.

Now since I don't know a thing about fishing I am watching very closely. I am thinking the six fishermen are clearly competing in this morning's championship, perhaps to bring in the most fish. But the old man is working very slowly. He probably won't catch anything anyway, so why rush. He takes his time and I am thinking maybe he only started fishing recently. He probably is just learning and is not well practiced, which is why it takes him so long. He clearly is out of the competition, and while the other six intently watch each other, he is in his own world.

While the six quickly get into action, the old man slowly prepares his bait and adds a series of hooks on each line. It seems to take him forever to get ready. He then finally is ready to angle his two fishing rods. At this point I think, well, he's going to sit here a long time now because nothing seems to be biting. They all have been sitting for a while with little or no action. But it takes exactly three minutes and the old man's line is pulled. He gently and patiently reels it in, holding the fish in a steady hand and puts it in the bucket. And then he is back in action.

You see, in my ignorance, I thought the old man didn't know what he was doing and that's why it took him ages. In fact, he was going through his disciplined routine, which was what set him apart from the other men and why he achieved results. I was misled by his minimalistic gear compared to the fancy equipment of the other six. It is said "Never judge a book by its cover." But I now know that I should never judge a fisherman by his gear.

The seventh fisherman doesn't need fancy gear and accessories; he has his routine. His system. A tried and true form of preparation and the knowhow discipline. The time he takes to prepare on the front end he gets back in achieving results. His readiness produces quicker results. It's his discipline of practice that delivers the fish. He has a dozen fish in his bucket within an hour.

Here are three lessons I have learned from observing the seventh fisherman:

First, beware of judgment. This must be the 100th time I have been given the lesson to be wary of judging what you see. My judgment may simply be a reflection of my ignorance.

Second, readiness is charisma for luck. The fisherman kept pulling one fish after the other. He seemed ensconced in his own world, almost in a trance. In actuality he was going through his routine; a form of ritual. His preparation routine builds readiness. And readiness summons opportunity, which for the passing observers appears as luck. As the story goes: A successful golfer was accused of being lucky, to which he replied: "Yep, I'm lucky. But you know what? The more I practice, the luckier I get!"

Third, your inner discipline creates your play, not your fancy accessories. Discipline has multiple faces: professional; learning; and performance, to name a few. Professional discipline provides protocols to deliver results in a specific profession. The learning discipline shows you how to assimilate new knowledge and internalize a new skill. The discipline of performance directs the practices that produce peak results.

Now it's your turn. Turn the key. Beware of judging people and situations on first impressions. Build your system and structure. Develop the routines and discipline that make you successful at what you do. Then, keep refining your system and practice. That's the secret of every successful endeavor.

© Aviv Shahar